The Baseball Codes

Where’s Ott’s RBI?

A reader named Robert contacted me today with a fascinating question. I can’t say it any more concisely than he did, so I won’t try:

In Baseball Codes,  page 74, it is stated that Mel Ott was walked with the bases loaded.  On the day in question, October 5, 1929, second game of doubleheader, Ott was walked five times.  If we go back to September 24th we find that Ott drove in three runs, bringing his total for the year to 151.  That (151) was his final RBI total for 1929.  Ott did not get credit for an RBI in the game of October 5th.  Why?

Sure enough, Ott received no RBI for his five-walk day, which included one with the bases loaded. The Giants scored 12 runs that Oct. 5 but were only credited with 10 RBIs.

My instinct tells me that rules at the time disallowed RBIs being awarded for bases-loaded walks, but that’s strictly hypothesis.

And so I ask you: Any ideas about why this might be?

– Jason

8 thoughts on “Where’s Ott’s RBI?

  1. I don’t have much to add, but I do have a question. Let’s say it was an error by the scorer – I’m sure things like this have popped up before. How likely is it that Ott’s official RBI total would be updated? Is that possible? Is there an official RBI count even?

    1. If it is an error, these kinds of things are updated all the time. As detailed in The Baseball Codes, Ty Cobb beat out Napoleon Lajoie for the 1910 AL batting title (and earned the luxury Chalmers automobile that went to the victor), but after both players were long dead it was ruled that one of Cobb’s 2-for-3 performances had been mistakenly logged twice.

      The error, once corrected, gave the title to Lajoie. (What happened to the car is anybody’s guess.)

      Ott finished second in the NL RBI race to Hack Wilson in 1929, but even with an extra tally on his RBI mark he still would have fallen well short of Wilson’s 159. So even if there was a tweak, it would have only minor repercussions on the historical record.

  2. I’m getting toward the end and find myself slowing down because I don’t want it to be over. A fantastic book – truly a cut above the regular baseball drivel. Thanks.

    Having read the part above how Showalter suspected his pitching coach of snitching up to Yankee brass, I now comprehend fully why he purged the entire Os coaching staff this offseason and sent Terry Crowley to antarctica.

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